Gas, power shortages hit central China

A cold spell across northern and central China has reduced supplies of electricity and natural gas to cities.

Gas, power shortages hit central China

A cold spell across northern and central China has reduced supplies of electricity and natural gas to cities including Wuhan and Hangzhou, with coal shortages exacerbating the problem in the central province of Hubei.

Output from small coal mines generally falls in winter, and safety crackdowns and forced consolidations might have further reduced supply from private mines. A cold front has increased demand, pressuring the relatively new supply of natural gas.

Nearly 2.4 gigawatts or some 17 percent of coal-fuelled power generating capacity in Hubei province has been shut due to coal shortages and more is at risk of being closed, local sources told Reuters said on Thursday.

Hubei's capital Wuhan has a daily shortage of 400,000 cubic meters of gas, Wuhan Natural Gas Co. spokesman Yu Guohua told the Xinhua news agency.

To its east, Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang Province, had a shortage of natural gas for the second time this winter, with the shortfall totalling 170,000 cubic meters of gas, Xiang Min, an official with Hangzhou Gas Group, told Xinhua.

Hubei province has cut electricity and gas supplies to industrial and commercial users. Power blackouts are likely to re-emerge after the power crunch in the summer of 2008.

Coal stocks in Hubei power plants connected to grid networks have now fallen to less than 1 million tonnes and the decline is continuing, said one source who has access to the data.

"More plant closures are imminent if coal stocks were not improved," he said.

Hubei has around 44 GW of power generating capacity, but two thirds of it comes from hydropower plants which generate less power in the winter season.

In addition, some hydropower output, including a big portion from the massive Three Gorges Power Station, is contracted to be transmitted to regions outside Hubei.

Power shortages in coming weeks could rise to as high as 4 GW or nearly a quarter of current maximum power load in the province, said another source who is close to a local grid operator.

With power demand surging in the winter, coal stocks in 349 power plants across China have decreased to around 27 million tonnes, or barely enough for 12 days of generation, while stocks in power plants in near the northern cities of Beijing, Tangshan and Tianjin have declined to levels just sufficient for six days of use after temperatures dropped well below freezing, the Shanghai Securities News reported on Thursday.



Reuters

Last Mod: 17 Aralık 2009, 15:44
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